For many years the recycling and environmental sectors have lagged behind many other industries in their application of technology. Having now worked in IT for a quarter of a century I thought it was time to reflect on what the real benefits of technology are, and then predict how different technologies may be adopted in this sector over the coming year. To put it in simple terms, technology (when implemented correctly) brings one of two benefits; it either improves efficiency or it provides reliable and appropriate information upon which better decisions can be made. I have chosen five technologies that fall into one or both of these categories, and I would predict that at least four of them will be a hit during 2014. What do you think, hit or miss? Continue reading
Big Data is omnipresent, yet relatively unknown. It is a technology that affects our everyday lives in so many ways, though most of us do not know it exists. In this blog I attempt to uncover a phenomenon that has become pervasive in many aspects of life and is now impacting, amongst others, the waste, recycling and environmental sectors.
Before offering some insight into what Big Data is, let’s put forward a few examples that are easy to relate to: A 20’s something female updates her relationship status on Facebook from single to engaged. She then begins to see subtle (and sometimes less than subtle) advertising for wedding dress shops, romantic holiday destinations and even hotels in her home vicinity that offer the full wedding package. Now, Facebook do not employ huge teams of data ninjas that monitor your every change in circumstance to then present you with appropriate advertisements, they employ Big Data. Recently, a piece of research from Cambridge University and Microsoft across 58,000 volunteers demonstrated a remarkable ability to predict a person’s age, gender, political affiliation and even sexual orientation just from their “Likes” on Facebook. Apparently clicking “Like” on subjects such as “Britney Spears” or “Desperate Housewives” were among the signs of homosexual orientation! Continue reading
The world of software is ever changing, and increased choices are making the investment decisions more complex. Cloud computing has added a new dimension and this can, to the uninitiated, create some confusion. Here I try to tackle the cost aspect of cloud computing versus more traditional purchase models. Continue reading
To address the issue of metal theft, the government has amended various bills to implement a cashless system for purchasing in the scrap metal industry. Here I look into the implication of this and how companies need to focus on their IT systems to make it happen, particularly in light of key exceptions.
Metal theft has rapidly become a scourge on our industry, with public sympathy focusing on the victims and eyeing anyone involved in the industry with distrust. The recent amendments to the Bill announced in May and due to come into force in August are generally welcomed in the industry as they offer scrap metal merchants the opportunity to confirm their honesty and integrity. However, the system won’t be foolproof as the Government has had to provide exemptions for itinerant scrap metal collectors who often have no way of receiving payment via any other means than cash. Continue reading
It’s a long time since the metal trade made the news with such regularity. From the tap-rooms in local pubs all the way up to the Houses of Parliament, the discussion around metal theft has never been so vociferous. Metal theft has become a national issue and Jason Fazackerley discusses how technology is leading the fight to combat it.
Out with the Old, in with the New
For many businesses, investment in new IT has been somewhat low on the list of essentials over the last year or two. Despite this, in the hi-tech world, the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google have seen the pace of new developments increase further and faster than ever before. Jason Fazackerley takes a look at why many businesses now have an opportunity to take advantage of newer technologies. Can these technologies bring real commercial benefit and allow them to make 2012 a springboard to success? And if some IT budget becomes available, where should IT Directors and CIO’s spend it? Continue reading
1) Virtualisation (also known as The Cloud!)
Virtualisation, incorporating Cloud Computing, will bring significant benefits to companies that need the flexibility to grow and/or contract their workforce whilst paying only for the software and services they use. This is suited to the dynamic businesses we see, particularly in the EfW arena. An additional and significant benefit is that this type of computing infrastructure can reduce the carbon footprint massively compared with traditional in-house environments with multiple servers and dedicated computer rooms.
We’ve seen consumers shift their buying habits from the high street to the web over the last decade, but many businesses fail to take full advantage of the e-business opportunities. More so than in many other industry sectors, recycling & waste management companies perform a substantial amount of their business transactions using contractors and other 3rd parties. This results in a huge number of human interactions (phone, email, post, fax) that could be automated using XML (an electronic instruction or document standard) based around agreed business rules. Removing the unnecessary overhead of repetitive tasks and deploying your information workers to perform value-add activities can increase your company’s performance hugely.
3) Unified Communications
Products such as Microsoft Exchange and Outlook have transformed the way we work. But with the addition of Microsoft Office Communication Server and Live Meeting you can bring instant messaging, presence information, Voice over IP and Video Conferencing to your business at very low cost. The ability to instantly respond, act and resolve takes away some of the frustrations of email overload. Live Meeting and the Video Conferencing that it supports is highly effective to organisations with staff working across multiple sites or from home. Again, this improves the pace at which an organisation operates and reduces cost (and carbon footprint) accordingly.
4) Solid State Drive
We have all experienced the benefits of memory sticks, SD cards etc. The development in solid state memory means that the days of the traditional spinning hard-drive are numbered. Solid State drives can be many times quicker than their moving predecessor resulting in faster running applications, and quicker analysis of data. In addition, they are now becoming quite affordable and therefore much more prevalent.
5) Green Computing
This is a huge area and a few hardware, software and systems integrators are taking the lead. Looking at the whole-life environmental impact of IT solutions is going to be as big to major IT vendors as the CO2/km measure is to motor manufacturers and consumers.